Alternative Systemic Treatments for Vitiligo: A Review

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2015 Dec;16(6):463-74. doi: 10.1007/s40257-015-0153-5.


Vitiligo is a common, acquired disorder of skin pigmentation that can significantly impact quality of life. It often represents a therapeutic challenge, which has resulted in interest in alternative treatments such as herbal and vitamin supplements. In this review, we provide an overview of the most commonly studied complementary agents, describe proposed mechanisms of action, identify potential adverse effects, and discuss the primary evidence supporting their use. Our discussion focuses on L-phenylalanine, Polypodium leucotomos, khellin, Ginkgo biloba, and vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B12, C, and E, folic acid, and zinc used as monotherapy or in combination with other treatments for the management of vitiligo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Ginkgo biloba*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenylalanine / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Therapy / methods
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use
  • Vitiligo / diagnosis*
  • Vitiligo / drug therapy*


  • Phenylalanine
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12